Investors View China Congress, Asia Stocks Iffy

Stocks in Asia closed narrowly mixed on Wednesday as investors in the region looked to China's Party Congress for signs on future policy direction in the world's second-largest economy.

The Nikkei 225 index picked up 26.93 points, or 0.1%, to 21,363.05

The Hang Seng Index acquired 14.27 points, or 0.1%, to 28,711.76

In Japan, major exporters were mixed: Mitsubishi Motor closed down 1.3%, Nissan rose 0.1% and SoftBank Group declined 0.5%.

In Australia, stocks were flat, with the utilities sub-index leading gains and rising 1.2%. Telecommunications stocks traded lower on the day.
In corporate news, Rio Tinto was charged with fraud by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Reuters reported. The mining company had allegedly inflated the price of assets in Mozambique. Rio Tinto said in a statement that it would "vigorously defend itself" against the "unwarranted" case brought by the SEC. Shares of the miner traded in Australia closed down 0.8%

Meanwhile, ANZ Bank New Zealand said John Key, the former prime minister of New Zealand, would be the new chair of its board of directors after current Chair John Judge retires in January 2018. ANZ shares finished the session just 0.03% over the flat line.

CHINA

Greater China markets were stable as the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China commenced in Beijing.

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 regained 31.09 points, or 0.8%, to 3,944.16

Markets kept an eye on developments in China as the congress began. Although past iterations of the meeting have proven opaque, investors attempted to look for signs on how Beijing might tackle issues such as its debt problem and industrial over-capacity.

During his nearly three-hour address at the event on Wednesday, President Xi Jinping highlighted achievements made by China in recent years, but acknowledged challenges that remained ahead. Xi also pledged there would be greater market access in the services sector and more extensive economic reforms.

The yuan was little changed on the day, with the onshore yuan trading at 6.6211 to the U.S. dollar. The offshore yuan traded at 6.6183 per dollar. The People's Bank of China had fixed the yuan midpoint a touch softer than the previous session at 6.5991 per dollar.

Ahead, key data from the world's second-largest economy, including September industrial production and third-quarter Gross Domestic Product numbers, are due on Oct. 19.

In other markets

Singapore markets were closed for holiday

In Korea, the Kospi index shed 1.46 points, or 0.1%, to 2,482.91

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index dipped 2.87 points to 10,720.28

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 inched up 2.96 points to 8,115.02

In Australia, the ASX 200 edged up 0.87 points to 5,890.48